More charges expected in Braggs child abuse case


Wednesday, August 3rd 2005, 5:44 pm
By: News On 6


SALLISAW, Okla. (AP) -- Law enforcement authorities are investigating whether a 4-year-old Braggs boy was allegedly abused in an attempt by family members to collect Social Security benefits.

Prosecutors say they expect to file more charges in connection with the case. Authorities are investigating a relative who lives in Sequoyah County, District Attorney Richard Gray said. Gray declined to identify the family member or the type of abuse alleged.

The boy was found last month at the home of an aunt, Sharon Smith, 51, of Gore, who has been charged in Sequoyah County with child abuse. The child was malnourished, had been handcuffed and locked in a closet, and subjected to what a law officer called "torture."

The boy's mother, Melanie Smith, 24, and her half brother, Roy Albert Smith, 20, both of Braggs, are being held without bail in the Muskogee County jail. They are charged with child abuse, neglect and child endangerment.

"More charges are likely to be filed against other family members within two weeks," Gray said.

The boy weighed 26 pounds when he was found last month at Sharon Smith's home. Investigators said the child had open wounds, patches of his hair were falling out and residue from black electrical tape and clear packing tape was found on his head, neck and ears.

Sheriff Charles Pearson said a motive behind the abuse may have been to make the boy look mentally unbalanced so the family could collect Social Security benefits.

Pearson said Melanie Smith received a $3,000 check and a $422 check from Social Security.

John Wright, assistant district attorney for Muskogee County, said he is reviewing reports to determine whether additional charges will be filed, including incest.

Melanie Smith and Roy Smith told authorities they lived together as husband and wife, Pearson said. Melanie Smith, who was given up for adoption as an infant, and Roy Smith share the same biological father.

A fund has been established to help the boy in his recovery.

Bank First
Minor Child R.K. Account
PO Box 1489
Muskogee, Oklahoma 74402-1489